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We love summer, and we love the beers that define it for us. Below are just a few beers we thought you all would like to check out and drink before this balmy season comes to a close.

Sparkle from Petoskey Brewing

summer beerThere’s barely a head on this golden, clear-as-crystal beer. It’s the epitome of summer drinking in my glass, because Petoskey Brewing decided to make their ‘Sparkle’ beer a Classic American Lager.


A whiff of crackers, some bread crust, grassy hops, and I’m on my way to tasting this little number. I receive a pleasant twinge of sweetness before a drying effect settles in. I’m left with a balancing, barely-there bitterness to round it out. A simple and to the point kind of a beer. Prepare yourself for true pleasure by pairing this summer quencher with seafood of the crustacean variety.

Even better, this beer comes in a  pint sized can, which means bringing this beer along when heading to the lake is a must.

 

Cake Walk from Right Brain Brewery

A cake walk, hey? AND it’s a Vanilla Cream Ale? Don’t mind if I do…

SummerBeer (6)Lovingly subtle Madagascar vanilla is in the nose, which is enveloped mostly by the aroma of corn. They suggest a “floral” note on the bottle and I don’t disagree, what with me thinking of lavender and lilies when I smelled it.

The mouthfeel is to die for! Incredibly smooth and pillowy, I gulp the beer down and find an explosive, yet not overwhelming, vanilla note. This dies down into the remnants of corn characteristic, and eventually into a lingering, small sense of bitterness.  It’s not sweet, but rather crisp. A very welcome thing on a hot day.

I’d explore this beer with cold cucumber soup, crab, or a béchamel and white cheddar grilled cheese.

 

Power of Love from Short’s Brew

SummerBeer (2)This, my friends, is a shandy-style ale. They chose to utilize rosemary and raspberry lemonade, and man, does it ever remind me of eating red popsicles in the summer while sitting on my mom’s lap. I’d get occasional whiffs of the American style lager she was drinking, and this shandy ale here brings those two scents together once again. No wonder they called it “Power of Love.”

As expected, the lemonade, raspberry, and rosemary scents make their way into my nose. I sip a bit and stagger a little at the sweetness, though it does make me want to freeze this beer in an ice tray and eat it as a popsicle….

A tiny bit of bitterness escapes at the very end, letting you know this is still part beer after all. It’s bright, fruity, sweet, and the perfect pairing with lemon basil chicken salad.

 

Tasmanian Hatter from New Holland Brewing Company

12oz-TasmanianHatter_Label_2015It’s an aroma bomb of dank, garlic, juicy mango and pineapple hops.  So far so good, now let’s dive in.

This ‘Galaxy India Pale Ale’ is punchy as all hell in the nose, but transforms itself into a sweet, bitter, and chewy beer that focuses on mouthfeel. It’s well rounded, flavorful, yet doesn’t feel disorganized.

Tasmanian Hatter can go in many directions with pairing, but I’d especially save this one for a roast rabbit with mango chutney or brisket tacos with pineapple slaw on a corn tortilla.

 

 

Mackinac Island Fudge Stout from Arbor Brewing Company

SummerBeer (4)What better way to end a meal in the summer than with a hot fudge sundae? Let’s re-create our own by pouring a little of this brew onto some ice cream and relish in the fact that chocolate beer and ice cream are a classic hit for a reason.


Here we are then, with the dark brown brew that is the Mackinac Island Fudge Stout. It’s got medium body, a little bit of acidity, and a creamy chocolate (almost tootsie roll candy) flavor that emerges in the flavor and aroma. Not overbearing or dense, this beer is a great way to get your chocolate fix even on the warmest of days.

You should also consider using this beer in a recipe for braised pulled chicken with beer mole sauce, using this fudge stout for the mole sauce.

Get out there, enjoy your continuing palate exploration, and live up the rest of the 2016 summer with season-perfect brews.

Cheers!

arbor brewing

In college, the beer began to flow on Thursday evenings. But I got older, and figured that Thursdays belonged to the young’uns. Then I moved to Ann Arbor, and discovered Arbor Brewing Company’s (ABC) monthly beer tastings. And for a long time, a certain Thursday each month belonged to them. The schedule of styles repeated every year, but the different beers and tasty buffet were enough to keep me coming back. But then I got busy, and figured I had probably tried most of the beers in the cycle, so I left Thursdays to the young folk once again.

To paraphrase a better writer than me, these Thursdays are a’changing. ABC is unveiling a new look to both the brewpub and to its Thursday tastings. Event Manager Elizabeth Cain-Toth says, “The Beer Tastings have been amazing over the past decade! We felt like it was time to revitalize the tastings along with the revitalization of the brewpub and menu. Offering different styles of beers relating to each theme will hopefully offer a fresh and enjoyable experience for both new and long-standing participants.”

On the second Thursday of each month, attendees will journey through the wonderful world of beer via a style of the month:

  • February: For the Love of Hops
  • March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb (sessions or high gravity—nothing in between)
  • April: Foolishness (outlandish adjuncts)
  • May: Old World Ales & Lagers
  • June: Summer Solstice (summer beers)
  • July: Made in Michigan
  • August: Think Global, Drink Local (breweries committed to sustainability)
  • September: Fall Favorites
  • October: Spooky Scary (names inspired by monsters, etc.)
  • November: Wild Winter (funky, tart, tangy beers)
  • December: Home for the Holidays (winter beers)

What can we expect on the second Thursday in February? Co-owner Rene Greff says, “We are always looking for things that guests will find interesting – sometimes because they are new brands, sometimes amazing historic brands, sometimes just a really interesting twist on a style.” She adds that the tastings in February “will go beyond IPAs.”

The party kicks off on February 10 at 7:00pm and tickets are still $25 in advance and $30 the day of. There will still be a buffet, a door prize drawings and, surely, plenty of calls for “SOCIAL” drinks. Back to drinking on Thursdays for me!

Michigan’s own Madonna once sang that “some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they’re okay…” She went on to divulge that Mr. Right was always that man with the cold hard cash. Money is great, but I want to tweak those lyrics a little to say that the man with the beer is (usually) Mr. Right. And he is even more likely to be the right one if he comes to you on Valentine’s Day bearing beer and candy. To help out those wannabe Mr. and Ms. Rights, I offer the following suggestions for Valentine’s gifts.

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Ah, those lovely heart shaped boxes full of chocolate goodies! Unless you cheat and get the Whitman’s Samplers, you are in for a lovely surprise with each chocolate that you pick. Here are some of my personal favorite pieces that can be paired with a delicious Michigan beer!

Vanilla in the middle: Whenever my dad would get my mom a box of candy, I would always insist on getting the ones with the vanilla cream in the center. This often meant that I would bite into or at least poke a few pieces before finding what I wanted. Ah, youth! Nowadays, I would still really love that vanilla cream interior, but I would pair it with Saugatuck Brewing Companys’s Neapolitan Stout. You could also use this beer if you accidentally grab the strawberry cream interior, as well. The beer is quite versatile.

Caramel: I’ve always had a problem with caramel — specifically, it sticks to my teeth and will not come off unless I pry it off with a chisel. Fortunately, I can use Odd Side Ales Granny’s Apple Pie to wash it down with! The apple flavor in this beer is not overpowering, and just tart enough to balance the caramel’s sugar.

Toffee crunch: The long, flat candies in the box tend to be the toffee crunch ones. I love any food that makes noise, so I usually go for these after I find my vanilla ones. A good winter warmer would balance out that sugary crunch — Arbor Brewing Company’s Jackhammer Old Ale would complement the taste of toffee perfectly.

Chocolate in the middle: Every once in a while, you will grab what I call the “chocolate chocolate” piece. You know, that one with the pure chocolate inside and out? If that happens, just go whole hog and grab a Detroit Beer Company’s Sanders Chocolate Stout. It is made with Sanders chocolate and what better way to honor the cocoa bean?

Raspberry in the middle: I mentioned above that I would often get to my mom’s chocolate box first. She was okay with this, so long as I left the raspberry creams for her. Raspberry was and is my mom’s favorite flavor, and I was a nice enough kid to share her own chocolates with her! Given the sweetness and sometimes overpowering taste of raspberry, I would suggest pairing these candies with the best chocolate beer out there, Atwater Brewery’s Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. The beer has the pure taste of chocolate, but isn’t overly sweet and doesn’t have any coffee or oatmeal undertones.

Chocolate covered cherries: How cool would it be to pair with these gooey, fun candies than a beer actually made with cherries? Fortunately, we have just such a beer that is made right here in Michigan: North Peak’s Archangel! This nicely hopped, well balanced beer will wash down the tasty chocolate.

Other Valentine’s Day treats

Marketers love dying things red, white and pink and calling them Valentine’s Day treats. I have absolutely no problem with this, and to celebrate that creativity, I suggest the following beers be paired with these fun Valentine’s Day treats.

M&Ms Dark Chocolate with New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk with Raspberries: This creamy stout with its touch of raspberries makes for a nice combination with M&M’s Dark Chocolate (or any dark chocolate, for that matter).

Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts with Tri City Brewing Company’s Giant Slayer: The strong peanut butter taste will need an equally strong beer, and there are few better than this imperial stout from Tri City Brewing.

Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses with Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Tres Blueberry: It’s a pity that chocolate covered blueberries aren’t more of a thing, because the two tastes really taste great together. Until the candies become more common, make your own with the classic Kisses paired with a tasty blueberry beer.

Conversation Hearts (Kiss me! Love me! Text me!) with a lager from Wolverine State Brewing Company: Nobody does lagers better than this Ann Arbor based brewery, and a nice, crispy lager will balance out the sugary fun of these chatty hearts.

Red Hots and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale: Traditionally, IPAs have been paired with hot foods. Thus, I think that the spiciest of candies will pair nicely with one of Michigan’s finest IPAs. (In a perfect world, there would be another batch of Red Hot beer brewed at the Arbor Microbrewery!)

Peeps with Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja: Peeps aren’t just for Easter anymore, and thank goodness for that! If you are going to ingest these gelatinous globs of sugar, just go for it! Balls to the wall! Eat the sugar, drink the sour and let the tastes mingle in your mouth.

These 12 beer and candy pairings should win your way into anyone’s heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a complete recap of the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click hereTo view part one of our favorite beers from the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click here.

Brewery Ferment 45th Parallale: Brewery Ferment is a fairly young operation based out of Traverse City. One of their flagship brews, the 45th Parallale is light, crisp and slightly hoppy, This American Pale Ale has a nice, earthy hop up front, with a slightly sweet citrusy aftertaste. A nice, drinkable beer that could be enjoyed again and again.

Kuhnhenn Kürbis Sour Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Available only during the Michigan Brewers Guild Beer Enthusiast hour (take note, those on the fence about becoming Enthusiast members), this brew created with the second runnings of All Hallows Ale stood out as the most interesting beer of the festival. Advertised as 12.25% ABV, it was light bodied enough to sip like it was less than half that. The spices – including nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon – dominated the nose, but upon tasting faded into a well balanced blend of sour tartness and honey sweetness. The overall effect reminded of mulled wine.

Short’s Bourbon Hammer Jack: An outstanding and quite boozy barrel aged offering by Short’s. This is a strong winter scotch ale with sweet notes and malty body. Very thick palate and very bourbony upfront with the aroma. This high ABV brew clocks in at around 9%. Although it’s typically a pub exclusive, there is no doubt this one will warm your bones during the fall and winter.

Arbor Harvest Ale: This barrel aged, dry-hopped IPA delivered the full piney fragrance of fresh, locally grown Chinook hops along with a palate-pleasing balance of spicy bitterness and mildly toasted malt flavors. An impressive exemplar of what’s possible through the rapidly developing Michigan-grown hop scene.

The Livery FramBam Wild Ale: Barrel aged with raspberries, this tart delight stood out even from The Livery’s other solid offerings, which included several barrel aged brews. FramBam melded the raspberry fruitiness with oaky and bitter notes for a surprisingly dry and satisfying finish.

Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde: The draft version of this modified blonde was just as tasty as the bottle version. Coffee aroma dominates the nose and the consistency is smooth with a surprising clean body. This brew blends the best of both worlds with its light mouthfeel and stout qualities. For those who don’t like heavy stouts but appreciate the look and aroma, this one’s for you.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th Imperial Stout: OK, nothing new here obviously. But is there anything wrong with sticking to an old stand-by? BBPt5 is one of if not the best bourbon-barrel stouts around. Smooth, dark, creamy and strong. In a time where everything is being thrown into a barrel, Dark Horse is still showing how it’s supposed to be done. Damn-near perfection.

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Compiled by Erik Hart, Mike D’Orazio and David Bardallis.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be previewing David Bardallis‘ upcoming book, “Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing.” Below is the book’s foreword, written by Rene and Matt Greff of Arbor Brewing Company and the Corner Brewery. The book is slated to be released Aug. 27. To pre-order David’s book, please visit Amazon.com.

If you’ve ever bellied up to the bar and tipped back a pint at a local brewery, then you know there’s something special about drinking a brew right from the source. And it’s more than simply quality and freshness. There’s a satisfying sense of interconnectedness — a sort of Old World charm — that comes from running into your local brewer around the neighborhood or having him or her step out of the brewery to shake your hand and ask you what you’re drinking. Somehow the beer just tastes better when you know the people who brewed it.

Like most Americans over forty, we grew up drinking faceless, mass-produced beer that was completely disconnected from the men who made it. We first discovered fresh, local beer and pubs in Europe during separate study-abroad semesters in college and then, later, together on our honeymoon in 1991. Matt started homebrewing in 1992 and quickly found that he enjoyed making beer a lot more than working as a database analyst. By 1993, the Michigan legislature cleared the way for brewpubs to open, and we began dreaming of our own brewery.

When we opened the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor in the summer of 1995, we never could have imagined what lay in store for our brewery or our nascent industry. At the time, we were the only brewpub in Washtenaw County, and one of only 10 craft breweries in Michigan. Fast-forward to 2013, and we find ourselves gloriously awash in craft beer, with 125 breweries in operation across the state — 11 right here in our own backyard!

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As pioneers in a dynamic, rapidly changing industry, we’ve had the opportunity to play our small part in the history of brewing in Ann Arbor. In addition to being the first brewpub in Washtenaw, we were also the state’s first solar brewery, the first to produce barrel-aged sour beers and the first brewpub to open a packaging brewery, and in 2012, we became the first American craft brewery on the Asian subcontinent with the opening of our Arbor Brewing Company India location in Bangalore.

Even as our industry has evolved and grown over the past decades, there are some constants that predate the post-1980s craft renaissance and stretch into the past to pre-prohibition America, as well as even farther back to our distant ancestors from faraway lands. Local breweries have always been about connections—between pub staff and customers, brewers and beer lovers and patrons whiling away the hours celebrating, mourning, telling stories and plotting revolutions large and small.

So, like any great historical tale, the history of brewing in Ann Arbor needs to be much more than mere dates, facts and figures. This story can be told only by someone who is both beer lover and drinker, journalist and historian, philosopher and social critic. There’s no one better equipped for the job than Dave Bardallis, who combines a passion for the truth with the heart of a hometown boy — and an insatiable thirst for local beer.

We’re proud to say that we knew Dave before he was “the Ann Arbor beer guy,” although neither of us can remember exactly when we first met him. He’s one of those people who just seemed like he’d always been a regular. Then, at some point, we slipped across the blurry line into friendship without any of us really noticing it (blurry lines can be an occupational hazard). Given our shared love of the flavors, history and tradition of beer; our hometown; and lively debate, our friendship was probably inevitable.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading Dave’s beer writing can attest to his sense of humor, his gift for storytelling and his tell-it-like-it-is approach to reporting. But those of us in the industry who have had the opportunity to work with Dave can also attest to his honesty and integrity. He is simply a man who loves to drink and write and learn, and his humble and open approach to covering the craft beer business has made him one of the most well-known and widely respected craft beer correspondents in Michigan.

So, know that you are in good hands as you embark on this fascinating journey of discovery into a local history of brewing that crosses its own blurry lines into music, politics, poetry, science, medicine and even the paranormal. Pull up a pint and enjoy the ride!

Rene and Matt Greff, Founders and Owners
Arbor Brewing Company
Corner Brewery
Arbor Brewing Company India

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be previewing David Bardallis‘ upcoming book, “Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing.” Below is the book’s foreword, written by Rene and Matt Greff of Arbor Brewing Company and the Corner Brewery. The book is slated to be released Aug. 27. To pre-order David’s book, please visit Amazon.com.
If you’ve ever bellied up to the bar and tipped back a pint at a local brewery, then you know there’s something special about drinking a brew right from the source. And it’s more than simply quality and freshness. There’s a satisfying sense of interconnectedness — a sort of Old World charm — that comes from running into your local brewer around the neighborhood or having him or her step out of the brewery to shake your hand and ask you what you’re drinking. Somehow the beer just tastes better when you know the people who brewed it.
Like most Americans over forty, we grew up drinking faceless, mass-produced beer that was completely disconnected from the men who made it. We first discovered fresh, local beer and pubs in Europe during separate study-abroad semesters in college and then, later, together on our honeymoon in 1991. Matt started homebrewing in 1992 and quickly found that he enjoyed making beer a lot more than working as a database analyst. By 1993, the Michigan legislature cleared the way for brewpubs to open, and we began dreaming of our own brewery.
When we opened the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor in the summer of 1995, we never could have imagined what lay in store for our brewery or our nascent industry. At the time, we were the only brewpub in Washtenaw County, and one of only 10 craft breweries in Michigan. Fast-forward to 2013, and we find ourselves gloriously awash in craft beer, with 125 breweries in operation across the state — 11 right here in our own backyard!

[sam_ad id=”23″ codes=”true”]

As pioneers in a dynamic, rapidly changing industry, we’ve had the opportunity to play our small part in the history of brewing in Ann Arbor. In addition to being the first brewpub in Washtenaw, we were also the state’s first solar brewery, the first to produce barrel-aged sour beers and the first brewpub to open a packaging brewery, and in 2012, we became the first American craft brewery on the Asian subcontinent with the opening of our Arbor Brewing Company India location in Bangalore.
Even as our industry has evolved and grown over the past decades, there are some constants that predate the post-1980s craft renaissance and stretch into the past to pre-prohibition America, as well as even farther back to our distant ancestors from faraway lands. Local breweries have always been about connections—between pub staff and customers, brewers and beer lovers and patrons whiling away the hours celebrating, mourning, telling stories and plotting revolutions large and small.
So, like any great historical tale, the history of brewing in Ann Arbor needs to be much more than mere dates, facts and figures. This story can be told only by someone who is both beer lover and drinker, journalist and historian, philosopher and social critic. There’s no one better equipped for the job than Dave Bardallis, who combines a passion for the truth with the heart of a hometown boy — and an insatiable thirst for local beer.
We’re proud to say that we knew Dave before he was “the Ann Arbor beer guy,” although neither of us can remember exactly when we first met him. He’s one of those people who just seemed like he’d always been a regular. Then, at some point, we slipped across the blurry line into friendship without any of us really noticing it (blurry lines can be an occupational hazard). Given our shared love of the flavors, history and tradition of beer; our hometown; and lively debate, our friendship was probably inevitable.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading Dave’s beer writing can attest to his sense of humor, his gift for storytelling and his tell-it-like-it-is approach to reporting. But those of us in the industry who have had the opportunity to work with Dave can also attest to his honesty and integrity. He is simply a man who loves to drink and write and learn, and his humble and open approach to covering the craft beer business has made him one of the most well-known and widely respected craft beer correspondents in Michigan.
So, know that you are in good hands as you embark on this fascinating journey of discovery into a local history of brewing that crosses its own blurry lines into music, politics, poetry, science, medicine and even the paranormal. Pull up a pint and enjoy the ride!

Rene and Matt Greff, Founders and Owners
Arbor Brewing Company
Corner Brewery
Arbor Brewing Company India

9% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Clear, orangish-amber in color, medium white head.
Aroma: Faceful of grassy and citrus hops with whiffs of biscuity, grainy malts.
Taste: Citrus hops dominate up front, followed by biscuity and bready malt flavors mid-palate, and a lingering bitter bite and warm alcohol in the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, crisp, a wee bit of astringency.

Inspired by Arbor Brewing co-owner and founder Matt Greff, Mr. Delicious Double IPA was created for lovers of big, bold flavors, whether in their beer, in their cuisine, or in their life in general. According to its official description, it pairs well with “salty cured meats, strong stinky cheeses, whiskey and cigars.” From my experience, it’s definitely man cave-approved.

ANN ARBOR — Beer! You can drink it. You can cook with it. You can pair it with food. And you can even bake with it, too. Who knew?

The pros at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, that’s who. They offer a dizzying array of different baking classes — covering everything from French baguettes to Jewish cookies to Hungarian coffee cakes — and one of them is focused on the fine art (or, more accurately, science) of baking with everyone’s favorite beverage.

On Feb. 27, a guy who last baked in his seventh-grade home economics class joined 11 other students at the Bakehouse to learn the secrets of using beer to make bread, scones, crackers and more. And learn I did, in a crash four-hour course led by instructor Nikki Lohmann, a pastry chef who has worked in kitchens in New Orleans, Toledo and right here in Ann Arbor.

A handy folder provided to each student included four recipes, coupons for Zingerman’s baked goods and cheeses, a list of essential kitchen utensils and equipment and informative materials on flour and other key baking ingredients. We got our hands dirty right away creating dough for Oats and Blonde Ale Bread, which featured Arbor Brewing’s Bollywood Blonde Ale. While we waited for the bread to bake, we tackled Beer Cornbread (also made with Bollywood Blonde), Beer Scones with Apricot (made with the non-Michigan beer Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale), and, finally, Beer and Cheddar Crackers, which featured Bell’s Porter.

Despite my best efforts, everything I mixed turned out delicious in the Bakehouse ovens. For my money, the crackers were the best of the four things we made, probably because they also included cheese, which is almost as awesome as beer. We got to take all our goods home to share with and impress our friends and families, though I kept all the crackers to myself and later used them in some beer chili I made with Wolverine Dark Lager. (It was as yummy as it sounds.)

The cost is $100 and though that sounds somewhat steep, you do as mentioned go home with a big loaf of bread, a tin of cornbread, a dozen scones and a bag full of those crackers. Not to mention some good recipes and newfound knowledge for using beer in yet another area of your life. And yes, there is also a beer and baked goods sampling session before you leave.

The next class is Sunday, May 19, and you can sign up here.

Beer appétit!


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